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Red Eyed Tree Frog

Startling Predators With Large Red Eyes

In the animal kingdom, bright colors often mean DANGER! Many animals use bright coloring to signal to predators that they will be nasty to eat, even poisonous. One animal type excels at using this scare tactic: amphibians. Amphibians are small vertebrates that require a moist environment to survive. The Red-Eyed Tree Frog is one of the best-dressed amphibians around! They have amazing coloring with a neon-green body, bright red eyes, orange feet, and blue-and-yellow colored sides. The frogs are nocturnal, snoozing during the day on leaves and other foliage, and coming out to hunt at night. They tuck their legs under and close their eyes to hide their bright coloration. They become camouflaged within the plants. If caught sleeping by a predator, the Red-Eyed Tree frog will suddenly pop open its red eyes, hopefully startling the predator long enough to jump away and escape. Their coloration is a trick though, called deceptive coloring, because they are actually not poisonous at all!

Lifecycle and Mating: Leaves to Water to Trees

Have you listened closely at dawn and dusk to hear male frogs call out to female mates near your house? Listen closely one day if you haven't! The Red-Eyed Tree Frogs do the same thing and have a unique ‘chaking’ sound. They mate between October and March during the rainy season. The female frog will pick her mate, and lays roughly 40 eggs on a leaf over water or a pond. She will add a sticky glue to keep the eggs together, and may fold the leaf to hide the eggs. In a week, the eggs will hatch and the tadpoles fall into the water below. They can hatch earlier though, if they sense the vibrations of a predator. The tadpoles still have to survive more predators once in the water, such as dragonflies and fish. After a few weeks to a few months the tadpoles will complete their metamorphosis into frogs and leave the water. They are arboreal meaning they will spend the rest of their lives in trees and are almost never found on the ground! Red-Eyed Tree Frogs have long legs and suction cups on their orange toes that make them excellent climbers. Once they leave the water, their eyes will develop that super bright red color! If the young frogs can survive on eating small flies and other insects like grasshoppers and moths, they will breed at around three to four years of age and can live up to five years of age.

Habitat and Conservation: Thin Skinned

Shocking their predators with bright colors seems to work well for the Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, as they have abundant healthy populations in their natural habitat: the tropical rainforests in Central and South America. This is a warm wet climate, averaging 77° Fahrenheit, and rainfall totals between 50 to 250 inches per year. While the Red-Eyed Tree Frog populations are strong, there is always a need to conserve and protect the rainforests in which they live. Half of all amphibian species have been put at risk as deforestation, global warming, and pollution threaten their habitats! Amphibians have special skin. It is extremely permeable, allowing them to breathe through it and absorb water, but this means toxins can get in too. Red-Eyed Tree Frogs are also cold-blooded, requiring specific conditions for life. Too much sun or wind can kill them rapidly. Their instincts tell them where to find shade and how to survive in the jungle.

If you ever get to visit the Amazon Rainforest, keep an eye out for these little guys!

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